I began flinging winter gear out of my closet.
When I left, it was 14°, and it took me at least 45 minutes to fully warm up. I wasn't sure if it was going to work; I'd ridden earlier in December with temps in the teens, and my IT bands contracted so far that I got ITBS for the first time (oh, joy). But I've been stretching and foam rolling for weeks now, and it seems to have worked out the worst of it.
I had three layers on my lower body, and four on top (more like five, once you count the bibs from my shorts and my tights). I had a pair of running pants on over my windfront tights, trying to keep those knees warm. I don't have booties (saving dough for a new bike), so I put half a plastic bag over each of my Smartwool socks, then the shoe, then covered the shoe with the usual toe covers.
I came dangerously close to going down a couple times on icy back roads, so I detoured onto the local two-lane highway, cleared surprisingly well (if a bit trafficky).
If I stopped to adjust my face mask or grab a quick bite, when I got back on the bike, the mask would be hardened and warped inward. I couldn't figure out why until I realized... Duh! The condensation from my breath on the mask was freezing solid, in the two minutes I had been off the bike.
I had confidently predicted to my wife that I would be one of four riders in the Pioneer Valley on the road that morning. Lo, but I did see a guy in a Northampton Cycling Club jersey exiting the Quabbin Reservoir nature reservation on what looked like a 'cross bike, as I tooled by on Route 9. We nodded grimly to each other.
Here's how I looked before departing:
And here's how red my hands were after being back in the house at least five minutes:
(In a whiny tone of voice:) "Am I a hard man yet??"
Automatically disqualified just for asking.
Photos © 2009, Mrs. Velophoria